The United States is a country that upholds and celebrates every person’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Though all three are supposed to be unalienable rights which the government is meant to protect, it seems there are some exceptions to this rule.

There are certain things that people are banned from doing or bringing in the country because of safety concerns, environmental issues or even political troubles. So, even if you have all the best intentions and all the money in the world, there are some things you just can’t legally buy or do in the United States.

As examples, here are five things you probably didn’t know are banned in the United States.

1. Kinder Eggs

Kinder eggs (SOURCE: Shortt, Amber)

Who could say no to a surprise toy wrapped in a delicious, egg-shaped chocolate treat? Well, as it turns out, the United States government could. While the rest of the world gets to buy and enjoy the sweet chocolate taste of Kinder Surprise, those who reside in the U.S. cannot.

Since 1938, the country has enforced a ban on candies with embedded “non-nutritive objects,” including toys. When Kinder Surprise began to be manufactured in the 70s by Italian company Ferrero, these hollow chocolate eggs containing surprise toys inside fell under the country’s Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and were made illegal in the United States.

On top of that, the Food and Drug Administration or FDA also claims the surprise toy inside these egg-shaped chocolates to be potential choking hazards for kids. As a result, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection regularly issued press releases which served the objective of reminding the public that Kinder Surprise Eggs are simply too hazardous to be brought into the country legally.

Of course, these warnings have not stopped some people from trying to smuggle these delicious chocolate eggs across the border. And over the years, members of the public have questioned the ban, calling out the U.S. government for implementing a “ridiculous” policy.

2. Unpasteurized Milk

There is an exhaustive history and ongoing debate regarding the legalization of raw milk in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, unpasteurized milk is a viable home for dangerous bacteria and other harmful germs that can get you sick or worse, even kill you. While it is quite possible to get foodborne illnesses from other types of food, they say raw milk is among the riskiest of them all.

States have the power to adopt their own laws regarding the sale or distribution of raw milk. However, at the federal level, the FDA strictly enforces the pasteurization of all milk and milk products that are intended for human consumption. The organization has also banned the interstate sale or distribution of raw milk, and while there are some exceptions to the rule, these are very limited.

There is a loophole to the government’s ban on unpasteurized milk. Drinking or consumption of raw milk in itself remains legal in all 50 states. So, if you want to drink fresh milk straight from a cow, you’d have to consider raising your own cow as your personal source of unpasteurized milk.

3. Books Published Before 1985

Under a law Congress passed in recent years about the regulation of hazards in children’s products, the federal government has deemed children’s books published before 1985 as unsafe and has essentially made it unlawful to sell or distribute them.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 imposed tough new limits on using lead in any products intended for use by children aged 12 and below. This provision has a retroactive effect, which meant goods manufactured before the passing of the law cannot be sold or distributed unless they are subjected to further testing.

Thrift stores and bookshops were hit particularly hard by this policy because many books printed before 1985 used inks and paints with lead pigments. And because of that, the U.S. government believes that these old books might potentially give children brain damage due to lead poisoning.

4. Haggis

Haggis is a traditional Scottish pudding which is made of sheep’s liver, hearts, and lungs – ingredients which are not exactly welcomed and appreciated by a large number of people in the United States. Though it’s not largely popular in the country, Scots, on the other hand, have been pushing for the lifting of the import ban on haggis since 1971. That year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ruled that “livestock lungs shall not be saved for use as human food.”

More difficulties in the export of traditional haggis ingredients into the country surfaced when the importation of British lambs back in 1997 was also implemented. At the time, a potential link was discovered between the human and the cow forms of the terrifying mad cow disease.

However, it looks like this ban won’t be in effect for much longer. After years of negotiating the lift of the ban, the Scottish government previously announced an important milestone regarding this issue, and they have expressed their hopes that the restriction on the export of lamb as well as haggis in the United States could finally be lifted sometime in 2017.

5. Fresh Ackee Fruit

Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and is typically enjoyed as a breakfast dish as well as a lunch or dinner entree. When the fruit ripens while on its tree, the Ackee fruit opens up and shows three large black shiny seeds which are surrounded by its bright yellow-colored flesh.

Banning a fruit might seem a little too extreme as a safety measure for some people, but the prohibition of this Jamaican fruit seems to be a warranted decision. As it turns out, though the yellow flesh around the seed of a ripe ackee is considered to be edible, the rest of the fruit has been revealed to contain toxic levels of hypoglycin A and B. And consuming this fruit in its raw form can lead to a condition known as Jamaican Vomiting Sickness. This can lead to mild to severe vomiting, convulsions, coma, and in some extreme cases, may even result in the death of the consumer.

Ackee imports were not permitted in the United States for almost 30 years until the band was lifted by the FDA in the year 2000 when modern technology utilized by processing companies allowed for the safer processing methods of the fruit. While the import of canned ackee is no longer prohibited in the country, it is still very much illegal to import fresh ackee. Aside from that, selling or commercially serving ackee which is planted and grown in the United States is also deemed by the law.

And there you have it – those are five of several things that are currently banned in the United States. After going through our list, you could probably see a bit more clearly the point of view of the federal government on why they felt it was necessary to prohibit the sale and distribution of certain items or products in the country. But of course, some of you might also be among those who have questioned such prohibitive laws, thinking some of these policies are just essentially absurd and that it’s unfair for the U.S. government to impose them upon its people. And while these prohibitions have not completely stopped everyone from doing what they want, it is important to keep in mind that these policies were made and are supposedly implemented in the best interest of the nation and its citizens.


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